Kate Bush’s “Moments of Pleasure” Lyrics Meaning

“Moments of Pleasure” is a song which Kate Bush intended to serve as a tribute to the people she has come across who she has ‘pleasurable’, fun-filled memories of being with. She also uses the occasion, most notably in the outro, to serve as a tribute to such individuals who have since passed away. 

And the verses point to specific memories which may not be particular extraordinary tales in and of themselves but still rank amongst the vocalist’s fondest “moments”.

Verse 1

For instance, the first verse reads as if it is addressed to a romantic interest of the singer’s. It is based on, most plainly put, the two of them chillin’ on the beach together but beyond that apparently at the time sharing some type of ideological future. 

It is not clear what that future or ideology entailed or if it ever came to pass. But again, the memory alone is enough to make the singer smile.

Verse 2

The next verse centers on “the case of” a mysterious figure named “George the wipe”. Who exactly this person is never identified. But whatever his “case” was, and it was one which really had Kate and the rest of the crew buzzing, i.e. something that unexpectedly transpired and ended up making them giddy. 

And it has been convincingly put forth that “George the wipe” was actually a studio employee who, a few years prior, accidently erased a song which Bush had recorded. And instead of George being punished, seemingly the whole crew, led by Kate, got a kick out of the humor of the situation, so to speak.

Verse 3

The third verse is set in New York City, with the vocalist being accompanied by a companion(s).  In this instance they are meeting someone who reminds her of an early 20th century actor by the name of Douglas Fairbanks. 

Kate has revealed that this individual was Michal Powell, a mid-20th century filmmaker from England. This would have been shortly before Powell himself passed away in 1990. And the way Bush presents the situation is that even though he was visibly sick at the time, meeting him was one of the outstanding experiences of her life.

The Chorus of “Moments of Pleasure”

Meanwhile, the chorus is the part of the song that gives us the best clue that this piece might be about the dearly departed. For therein “just being alive” is acknowledged as a state that “can really hurt”. But ‘pleasurable’ past memories give the vocalist relief from this pain, which we presume is caused by applicable related being departed.

Eventually we get to the chorus, which the songstress uses as a straight-up shoutout verse to those who have passed away. But Kate never goes as far as to actually let the listener know that these people are dead. 

Such would have to be inferred from the rest of the song. But researchers have identified who she is referring to.

The Dearly Departed

“Bubba” was an individual who in fact used to dance for Kate Bush. And he experienced an AIDS-related death in 1990. Alan ‘Murphy’ was a session musician she employed who met a similar fate the year prior. 

John “Teddy” Barrett was an engineer who worked for England’s most historically-renowned music studio, Abbey Road, and he was also involved in Kate’s third album, Never for Ever (1980). Barrett, whom she refers to as “Teddy”, passed away in 1984. 

Meanwhile, “Michael” would be the same Michael Powell (1905-1990) that we mentioned above. In fact the album this song is featured on, The Red Shoesis named after one of his works. 

And finally “Bill” Duffield was another former employee of the vocalist who unfortunately died in 1979 during The Tour of Life, i.e. Kate Bush’s sole concert tour to date. 

So even though we may not know who the other figures engaged in the first and second verses are, presumably some of them would be those mentioned in the outro.

The Conclusion of “Moments of Pleasure”

So even though Kate Bush intended this piece to be a tribute to “friends… who were fun to be with, some of whom aren’t alive anymore”, it’s clear that by the time all is said and done it becomes a more overt acknowledgement of the dearly departed.

Kate Bush's "Moments of Pleasure"
Kate Bush explains "Moments of Pleasure"

Facts about “Moments of Pleasure”

Kate Bush is a tenured British musician who has been dropping albums since 1978. And this song is from her seventh studio effort, 1993’s The Red Shoes. More specifically, it came out as the third single from that project on 15 November 1993 via EMI.

Throughout her nearly 50 year career, Kate has come out with a number of songs that were bigger hits than this one. However, it is clearly amongst her utmost fans’ favorites. For instance, there is actually an official Kate Bush tribute band who are known as Moments of Pleasure.

Kate premiered this song a few months before its release, on the date of 20 June 1993, via a television program known as Aspel & Company.

“Moments of Pleasure” was written and produced solely by Kate. And to note, part of the song was also recorded in her personal/private studio.

Interesting to note, as pointed out earlier, that Kate Bush has not had a concert tour since 1979’s The Tour of Life, in which Bill Duffield passed away from a stage-related accident. However, by 2014 she did eventually embark on a 22 show concert residency, in London, dubbed Before the Dawn.

This song features an orchestra which was conducted and arranged by Michael Kamen (1948-2003), a composer with a notable history of putting together film scores.

Many people feel that “Moment of Pleasure” is also intended to memorialize Kate Bush’s mom, Hannah Bush (1918-1992), who herself passed away a year before its release. 

Kate has clarified that such is not the case, although a certain line in the song, “every old sock meets an old shoe”, was one of her mother’s sayings. 

And for the record, according to The Irish Times what that phrase actually speaks to is “the notion that there is someone for everyone”.

Kate Bush's "Moments of Pleasure"

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